TWO early Wes Thomas goals meant Swindon Town’s season ended in defeat, as Rotherham United won 2-1 at the County Ground this afternoon.
Thomas netted twice in the first quarter of the match to give promotion-chasing Rotherham a boost going into the play-offs and, despite Michael Smith’s second-half penalty, Town couldn’t find a way back into the game.
Jay McEveley hit the crossbar for the home side, who were excellent in the second half after a meek showing in the first 45 minutes, but they couldn’t equalise.
Manager Mark Cooper handed a first Town start to Connor Waldon up front, while Ben Gladwin returned to midfield and Jack Barthram filled in at right wing-back for the suspended Nathan Thompson.
McEveley dropped into a central defensive role in place of Troy Archibald-Henville.
Swindon made the worst possible start and found themselves a goal down after 52 seconds. A tidy throughball picked out the run of Thomas and his first touch dispatched the ball beyond Wes Foderingham.
Thomas doubled the visitors’ lead in the 22nd minute as Town dallied in midfield again. Ben Pringle swung in a cross from the left and Thomas, who was the subject of three failed bids from Swindon this season when at Bournemouth, rose to head home off the crossbar.
Jack Stephens wasted a good chance to pull Swindon back into the contest, nodding a free header straight at Adam Collin in the Millers’ goal with 10 minutes to go before the break, but Rotherham held a handsome and deserved lead at half-time.
Michael Smith should have done better than heading at Collin from a Nathan Byrne cross in the 52nd minute, as Town began the second period with a lot more composure and quality in possession, and the striker then nodded at Collin again from Jack Barthram’s centre before he finally found the back of the net.
The goal came from the penalty spot. Massimo Luongo, thriving in his role as captain, nipped into the box and was tripped by Kari Arnason. Smith sent Collin the wrong way from 12 yards.
Swindon continued to push hard for an equaliser and went on to dominate the rest of the second half. McEveley was whiskers away from a stunning first goal for the club on perhaps his final appearance in a Town shirt, when he leathered an 18-yard drive against the crossbar, but there was no way through.